June 15, 2024

Stanwood Camano Island Soap Box Derby

Largest Soap Box Derby Race West of the Mississippi.

The Soap Box Derby is an annual event held at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island. Children ages 7-19 have the opportunity to build and race an official soap box car.

Winners of the Derby go on to race at the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in Akron, Ohio!

This Sport is Different!

Unlike other sports where parents or mentors sit on the sidelines, Soap Box Racing involves everyone. Drivers and their Car Handler work closely together to get their car ready to race, strategize the best lines to drive, make car adjustments, and work on driving ability. Racers cultivate and sharpen skills like:

Mental Toughness
Using Tools
Driving Technique

Upcoming Schedule

Every Thursday

Build Clinic (Apr 13 thru June 8)

5:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Every Saturday

Build Clinic (Apr 15 thru June 10)

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

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How to Race the Derby

1. Register a Driver
Deadline May 31

Each driver will need a mentor to work alongside them throughout the entire process. To sign up a driver you will need to complete the Driver Packet and bring a $75 registration fee to your first build clinic or open house. Email packet to

2. Attend Build Clinics
Thursdays & Saturdays

Drivers & Car Handlers will build their car alongside other drivers and receive help from the Tech Team. You can borrow a car kit to build or bring your own official car kit. (*must be approved by Tech Team). Attending build clinics is required for all drivers.

3. Practice Days
Select Build Clinics

At select build clinics, there will be opportunities to practice going down the track. We have two pre-built cars to practice in. Using pre-built cars eliminates the risk of damaging your main car.

4. Impound Days
June 10 & 11

Before race day our Tech team will inspect your car from top to bottom. This inspection makes sure everything is up to safety standards. After the official weigh-in, your car is “impounded” until race day to ensure all cars follow the standards.

5. Driver's Banquet
June 13

Driver’s banquet is an opportunity to celebrate all the hard work the drivers and car handlers of done. We will also go over all crucial aspects of Race Day Schedule! Also, drivers receive their Race Day T-Shirts and goody bags.

6. Race Day
June 15

Bring your whole family to experience Race Day. After weeks of prep, it’s finally time to race! The winners of the Derby go on to Race at All-American Soap Box Derby World Championship in Akron, Ohio!

Soap Box Derby Explained

Need a Scholarship to Race?

We have scholarships available please contact us at .

Our Race Track

Arrowhead Ranch is the host of a state-of-the-art Soap Box Derby track, meticulously designed for safety, visibility, and exhilarating competition.

#1 Regional Private Track
The perfect blend of safety and thrill for an unmatched racing experience.
1000 Feet Long
Offering a generous distance for Soap Box Derby racing.
2000 Feet of Guard Rail
Built to keep racers safe as they race the track.
Arrowhead Ranch's soap box derby track

Get Involved

Become a Sponsor

We offer a wide variety of options to get involved with the Soap Box Derby from a Title Sponsor to supporting Friend of the Derby. Our team is hard at work getting ready for this year’s race, so please reach out if you’re interested in sponsoring the event!

Brand Awareness
Logo on Ads and T-shirts
Logo on Website
Mentions on Race Day
Support Community
Become a Volunteer

We could not put on this amazing community event without the time and support of our amazing volunteers! We are always looking for help and would love to work with you!

Build Clinics
Race Day Prep
Race Day Activities

Learn More

Frequently asked questions

How to register for the Soap Box Derby?

Register your child (Link to application) and bring them along to one of our Build Clinics and we will get them signed up and talk options for getting them into a car. You may also contact our Derby Coordinator at race@arrowheadranchcamano.com.

Do you need to buy your own car?

We have a number of sponsored cars available to use. You do not need to invest in a new car to race. For those that do wish to own their own car, kits and spare parts are available from the AASBD website www.soapboxderby.org. Come out to a Build Clinic and we’ll be happy to discuss options.

How much do new cars cost?

New car kits, as well as wheels, for both Stock and Super Stock divisions, can be purchased from the Soap Box Derby website (Soap Box Derby > Catalog). Through the generosity of our Stanwood and Camano Island sponsors, we usually have loaner cars available – so drivers don’t need to invest in buying a new car. Our goal each year is to get every child who wants to race into a car.

Do boys and girls compete in the same division?

Yes they do! Soap Box Derby is one of the few sports where boys and girls compete on an absolutely level playing field (actually we like a bit of a slope so the cars will roll…). It all started when two girls disguised themselves as boys in order to race in the very first Derby back in 1934. From 1935-1970, Derby was run as a boys-only sport. In 1971 however girls were welcomed back in with open arms, and in 1975 Karen Stead from Lower Bucks County, PA became the first female AASBD World Champion. Her daughter now races at a national level, and there is a wonderful display of Karen’s car, trophy, and racing memorabilia in the Derby Museum. For the last few decades, the boy-girl split of World Champions has been about even.

Where and when are the Car Build Clinics held?

We normally hold Build Clinics at Arrowhead Ranch on Thursday nights starting in April and for a number of weeks leading up to the Local Race in June. Please email race@arrowheadranchcamano.com to find out the specific times and location of this year’s Build Clinics.

Do drivers need to assemble the their own car?

Yes, the car must be assembled by the Driver with help from their parent or mentor. This is a wonderful opportunity for children to get hands-on experience working with tools. At Build Clinics, there is lots of support for new builders. The build plans are available below if you want to get a feel for the steps required to assemble a car. The average time to put together one of the kits varies based on mechanical ability from as few as 2-3 hours to as many as 8-10 hours. If you own your own car you may assemble the car at home. Plan on coming to at least one Build Clinic before final inspection so we can help with axle alignment and fine-tuning – and so you can practice racing on the track before Race Day! We strive to share knowledge from past Champions to ensure each car is set up to be highly competitive.

FUN FACT: The third fastest Super Stock to ever travel down Akron Derby Downs came from Camano Island.

How much do the cars weigh?

Combined weight of car and driver are not to exceed 200lbs in Stock and 240lbs in Super Stock. As the car empty weight is around 65lbs, this means max driver weight in Stock is around 135lbs for Stock and 175lbs for Super. Total weight and weight distribution are both very important to the competitiveness of the car. As such weights are installed to get each car up to limitIt’s also an option to run up to a 15lb differential between front and back wheels. At the Build Clinics we have scales to check car weight, weights to loan out, and can provide expert guidance for your set-up.

What tools will we need to build our car?

Assembly requires only fairly basic hand tools. A cordless driver with a Phillips bit is also very helpful for taking the body shell on and off. There is a complete tool list in the Build Plans below. While we do have a small set of loaner tools, we ask that you bring your own tool box to the Build Clinic to allow everyone to work more efficiently. There are also several more specialized tools used to ensure the car is aligned properly for optimum performance. These are available at the Build Clinics.

Can we build our own car from scratch?

The short answer is no. To qualify cars must be built from official Soap Box Derby car kits using the instructions provided. No modifications are allowed and may disqualify the car and driver from participating in the race. The two car divisions we run are what’re are called “kit car” divisions. This allows entry into the sport and fair competition without the hundreds of hours and very specialized knowledge required to build the older “stick built” cars. This also helps ensure the cars all meet uniform safety requirements. To enable this, the cars are of a standard design, down to the specific AASBD-provided nuts, bolts, and washer stack-ups. Within the rules, there is some customization and variation allowed in the way the floor boards are finished using tung oil and wax. These can be used to stiffen the chassis or otherwise influence performance, alignment details, steering cable tension, and finally the finishes and lettering. Careful build quality and attention to detail also improve performance. Finding that final increment of performance within a “standardized” car class is one of the unique and fun challenges of kit car racing. At the Build Clinics our Tech Team offers new builders insight on just how to do that.

How does the Impound Day and Inspections work?

Prior to Race Day, each racer will undergo final inspection at one of the Build Clinics. The Driver and an adult are both required to be present at the Inspection with tools to take the shell on and off and make any required repairs. An Inspector will work with you to go through the car one last time with a checklist to ensure it is safe and built exactly per the rules. If any repairs are required, time and guidance will be provided. Then final weights are checked with the Driver in place and the car is moved into a closed-off impound area. The cars stay there until the morning of the race.

How is a typical race conducted?

All Local and Rally races in the Northwest (AASBD Region 1) are run as double elimination lane and wheel swap races. This is done to ensure that neither luck of the draw – who you end up racing first – or differences in lane and wheel speed influence the overall outcome of the race. The Stock and Super Stock classes are run as independent brackets, but the races go on at the same time on the hill. Due to the size of our local race, a typical race day will consist of Drivers checking in for final weights just after 7:00 AM, followed by a breakfast break, and safety meeting. Racing starts around 9:00 AM, and may go as late as 4:00 by the time the track is cleaned up and trophies are presented. Many spectators bring an awning and picnic supplies, for an outstanding day at the track.

Drivers are paired up in the brackets by random draw and then compete head-to-head in two-car heats. They drive their cars down the track, in what is called the first phase of a given heat. Each heat consists of two phases. At the bottom, an optical timer records which lane is ahead and by how much. Races are often decided by only a few thousandths of a second. The cars are then brought back up the hill on trailers, and the wheels are swapped between cars while still on the trailer (this only takes a few seconds). The racers then swap lanes and head back down the hill for phase two which completes the heat. The differential times are added up, and a winner for the heat is declared.

The winner of each heat continues racing in the “winner’s bracket” and the loser moves over to race in the “consolation bracket”. It is very important for racers to realize, it is still possible to win the entire race from the consolation bracket. It takes two full heat losses to be eliminated from the field. Both winner and consolation brackets are run until there is one Driver left in each. The driver in the winner’s bracket is declared “King or Queen of the Hill” as they are undefeated up to that point. The two remaining Drivers then race each other. If the King or Queen wins, they are declared overall Champion. If the Driver from the consolation bracket wins, then the two race off one more time (because the first driver has not had a loss up to that point). If they win a second time, they are declared Champion, and the King or Queen takes second place.

This may sound confusing, but it is really pretty easy to follow once it gets going. There are big brackets posted out at the track and outstanding announcers on the PA system that help folks follow all the Derby action. We also have a great crew of volunteers and officials that help direct the activities.

This race format is one of the greatest things about Derby. It ensures that even the lowest finishing Drivers will have a minimum of four trips down the hill in the actual race, making for a fun and satisfying day at the track. Also, if your Driver (or the Car Handler!) slips up and loses a heat, you are still 100% in it and can fight your way back to win the whole thing. Finally, as mentioned, lanes, wheels, and the draw do not influence the results. The Champion is truly determined by driving skill (~90%) and the set-up of their car (~10%).

What is the role of the Parent or Mentor?

Each Driver must have an adult available who will assist them in assembling the car and act as their “Car Handler” on race day. Car Handler is a defined role in the sport of Derby Racing, with formal role in helping with the prep and racing activities. This race-team bond is one of the most unique elements of Soap Box Derby. Derby is unlike other sports where parents just sit on a bench and watch. Driver and Car Handler work very closely to get their car ready to race, strategize the best lines to drive, make adjustments, and work on driving ability. It truly is a Team sport. When asked about it decades later, many former Drivers and their parents fondly regard Derby and Derby relationships as some of their most special memories from growing up.

How large a sport is Soap Box Derby?

Each year well over 1000 official AASBD Local and Rally races are held in more than half the US states and several foreign countries. There were estimated to be 3500 active Drivers in 2016. A niche sport yes, but one with a glorious history and highly devoted following. Many middle and high schools are now adopting the formal AASBD STEM curriculum that uses full-size and mini Derby cars to teach team work, science, and engineering. The STEM program now even has its own national championship. The hot beds of Derby Racing are the mid-West and New England, but there are very active Clubs on the West Coast, South East, and other places as well.

What is Regional Rally Racing and how can I get involved?

Rally Racing is an outstanding chance to compete with the finest Drivers from other parts of the Region or country. Most Champions who earn a spot to race in the All-American race in Akron more than one time, do so on the strength of skills honed while racing Rally. These races follow the exact same format as our Local Race, and most Rally events consist of two separate races on Saturday and Sunday of a race weekend. Rally races are being run for the Stock, Super Stock, and Masters classes, with up to six Rally Champs earning a spot in Akron each summer based on cumulative points. Please see the AASBD Rule Book for details of how the Rally points system works.

In the NW, Rally Racing is normally held in Spring (April-May) and Fall (Aug-Oct), leaving June/July for the Local and All-American Races. If Rally interests you, contact our Derby Director who will place you in touch with the organizers or a Regional Director.

What is the safety record of Soap Box Derby?

Yes they do! Soap Box Derby is one of the few sports where boys and girls compete on an absolutely level playing field (actually we like a bit of a slope so the cars will roll…). It all started when two girls disguised themselves as boys in order to race in the very first Derby back in 1934. From 1935-1970, Derby was run as a boys-only sport. In 1971 however girls were welcomed back in with open arms, and in 1975 Karen Stead from Lower Bucks County, PA became the first female AASBD World Champion. Her daughter now races at a national level, and there is a wonderful display of Karen’s car, trophy, and racing memorabilia in the Derby Museum. For the last few decades, the boy-girl split of World Champions has been about even.

How old must kids be to participate?

To enter the Stock Division, Drivers must be age 7 by the day of the Local Race they intend to enter (mid-June for Stanwood) and no older than age 14. To enter the Super Stock division, Drivers must reach age 9 by July 31 of the year they intend to race, and no older than 19 years of age. Younger Drivers should be mature and likely to become comfortable driving a car that may reach speeds of 30 MPH. While it is quite common for High School age kids to race Derby, they often grow too large for the cars before aging out. Note, a birth certificate will be required at the time of registration to confirm Driver age.

What makes for a successful Derby Driver?

Success in Derby hinges on several key factors. First and foremost, the Driver must demonstrate good sportsmanship, be tough, and focused. There will be things that happen over the course of a race that will be distracting or may challenge their resolve. They must remain focused and cool to drive their very best. Always know it is not over until it is over. Having an attitude of sportsmanship greatly helps the driver maintain this composure. This is a critical life skill that Derby teaches, and one of the reasons the Sportsmanship Trophy is the largest given out each year and the hardest to earn.

Teamwork comes next. Driver and Car Handler must have great communication and work together to understand the racing line and make adjustments. The Driver must know that it is their responsibility to keep an eye on their car as it is moved and loaded and talk with their Car Handler immediately if anything seems wrong with the car. Family and friends also play a big part in success, helping to ensure everyone stays focused and get plenty to eat and drink over the course of a long race day. Derby is without question a Team sport.

Next, car setup indeed plays a part, but quite honestly it has a relatively minor influence as compared to driving ability. The design of the cars we now race and the rules we follow, have evolved over the years to become very effective at preventing a highly-skilled builder from developing an overwhelming advantage. In past decades this was not always the case. Our Tech Team strives each year to make sure all participants have access to the tools, information, and guidance to achieve a very competitive setup in their car. That said, another critical life lesson Derby teaches is hard work pays off and the little details do matter. It’s up to each Driver and their helpers to ask questions, carry out the work, and take care to ensure their car is in top form.

That leaves the actual driving, and driving well really boils down three main factors: 1) Line, 2) Stance, and 3) Smoothness of Hand. First, the Driver and Car Handler must choose the correct racing line for the lane and circumstances. Due to crown in the road and obstacles like pavement cracks, etc. the fastest line is rarely ever straight. Start by watching what other experienced drivers are doing. Wind, sun, and rain can also influence the lines and they may change dramatically over the course of a race. Once the line is chosen, understood, and committed to by the Driver it’s time to get set on the starting ramp. The Driver must contort themself into an aerodynamic stance, and then stay that way right through to the finish line. This means getting their bottom back and shoulders down as low as possible, ideally leaving their back flat and even with the top of the car. For most kids, it takes some stretching to get flexible enough to be able to achieve a decent stance. It also means getting the helmet tipped back to be as flat as possible so it cuts through the air. Low is good, but for safety the rules demand the driver keep their eyes no lower than the top of the car at all times. Finally, when running on the race line, steering inputs must be as few and as smooth as possible. Any time the steering is turned, even slightly, it loads up the wheels and scrubs off speed. A new driver might move the wheel 100 or more times going down the track where a great driver does so less than 10. This starts by getting the car properly aligned in the ramps so the race line can be maintained with as little steering as possible. It will also help to smooth things out if you pick a spot far down the road to focus on, versus directly in front of the car. Steering during the first few seconds of a run is particularly bad, as is scrubs speed that hurts you the entire length of the run, so be ready when the gate drops.

How often are races held?

Since 2008, Stanwood-Camano has held a Local Soap Box Derby Race on the Saturday of Father’s Day Weekend each June. With upwards of 70 cars, this is now the largest Soap Box Derby race in the Western US, and Stanwood has been awarded multiple national awards for the quality of our racing program. We are truly fortunate to have this race in our town each year. We also host the Arrowhead Classic Rally Races.

Where are the soap box races held?

On a private 1,000 ft paved track at Arrowhead Ranch on Camano Island. 615 Arrowhead Rd, Camano, WA 98282

What prizes are the Drivers competing for at the Derby?

We have two awards: the Harry Brown Sportsmanship Award and the Pat Richardson Positive Impact Award. 

The Top eight finishers in the division win trophies. 

The Top finisher in each division earns the title Local Champion which brings with it an expenses-paid trip for Driver and Car Handler (and their car) to race in the annual All-American Soap Box Derby Race Week. Race Week has taken place on the beautiful grounds of Derby Downs, in Akron, OH since 1934. Our two Champions represent Stanwood and Camano Island while racing in front of thousands of fans against 400+ Local, Regional, and National Champions from around the US and as far away as New Zealand, Japan, and Europe, in six separate classes. Race Week consists of parades, social events, awesome family activities, and tons of racing over several days. Champions at the All-American compete each year for the title of World Champion, a permanent spot for their name and car in the AASBD Hall of Fame & Museum, over $36,000 in college scholarships, and other outstanding trophies and prizes. Without question, a trip to Race Week is something no child or parent will ever forget.

Did I hear something about a Derby Drivers Banquet?

Yes, the Thursday before the big race drivers and their families get together for a very fun banquet. We enjoy some tasty food and go over details of how the racing will work, and say a BIG THANKS!!! to all our fantastic Volunteers and Sponsors. All the Drivers have a chance to eat together at a large table and get each other charged up about the racing action to come. At the Banquet drivers receive their “Goody Bags” that include the Soap Box Derby T-shirt that they are required to wear on race day.

What are the different types of cars?

We currently race cars in the Stock and Super Stock divisions. The Stock cars have a hard plastic body and are square-ish in shape. This class is for younger or smaller kids. Stock shells can’t be painted, but can be decorated using vinyl graphics or marker pens. The Super Stock cars have a softer plastic body and are more rounded in shape. This class is for older and larger kids. These cars can be painted or left unpainted and decorated with graphics as well. The building and setup are very similar between the two classes.